Described as “a dazzling ballet of color, form, sound and arithmetic,” Planar Gazer tasks players with crunching numbers in an effort to get good times and up their multiplier. Despite an interesting premise, however, it proves to be far too convoluted (and spartan) for its own good.
Those looking to “git gud” at Squirgle best have a firm grasp at the concept of number bases. Players must make a series of shapes, but can’t make the hand bigger than the base. Successfully making the right shape adds to your multiplier. Things are fairly straightforward at first, but soon more complex shapes with additional sizes are thrown into the fray. Before you know it, octagons are thrown into the mix, which is a far cry from the four-sided squares players will start out with.
The thing is, it’s just not very fun. Those with a penchant for numbers might like seeing the right combos in place, but to us it felt like homework with a time limit. Its short nature makes it easy to jump in and play, but oftentimes we were trying to keep things alive as much as we can. There is a serious learning curve in place, and though there is a tutorial at the beginning to lay out the basics, the pick-up-and-play nature of games like Tetris or Puyo Puyo is noticeably absent here.
This also extends to the presentation found in Squirgle. It is most certainly known for its flashing lights and techno-infused, nine song soundtrack, but it also comes across as overly basic, almost to a fault. Its UI and elements are basic vector shapes, and though there is not a lot to manage, it can also come across as overwhelming, akin to a Fisher-Price toy cranked up to 11.
Outside of the main “Squirgle” mode is a battle mode that puts your “squirgling” skills against an opponent. These battles don’t last too long, and it more or less feels like players are doing their own thing rather than competing with one another. Also included is a “Time Attack” mode that lets you play for one, three, or five minutes, and a “Time Battle” mode that offers the same thing with a competitive element. Rounding things off is “Trance,” which is essentially a screensaver with never-ending shapes. It might seem like this title offers up a wealth of options at first, but players will likely see everything within an hour. No online play or leaderboards are available, which means that bragging rights online are off the table.
Squirgle’s complex nature makes for a high barrier of entry that practically eliminates any sort of mainstream appeal. As a result, it simply does not have the lasting power of other puzzlers on the market today.
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